Thursday, November 11, 2010

Funeral for The Duke's legendary landlord

Older residents on the estate will remember Erich Höfer, landlord of The Duke pub, when it was a lively music venue some years ago – home to Squeeze, The Realists aka The Electric Bluebirds, The Repertoire Dogs among others...*

Erich is immortalised in a Crossfields mural painted in 1982 on the side of Cremer House by Claire Humm (now living in Hastings). That's him, behind the bar, of course. A small number of the pub's pictured clientele still live on the estate, or in the area.

Erich recently passed away, and his funeral will be held on Friday 19th November.
Anyone who knew him will also remember (and probably know) his son Karl. Karl has kindly written to inform us of the arrangements for the day, should you wish to pay your respects:
"It begins with 10am mass at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Deptford, then on to Charlton cemetery for around 11.30am where he'll rejoin Anna and Aidan, and then on to The Duke from around 12.30 onwards. All are welcome. Flowers are fine or donations to cot death research (, whichever people prefer."

*Violinist Bobby Valentino (then of The Bluebirds) recalls a time in the early 1980s...'A variety of guitarists would be there including - intermittently - local heroes Mark Knopfler and Tom McGuinness. The most “musicians” we ever had performing in the corner of this very small pub, was fourteen. The “divvy” of the £30 fee didn’t cover the refreshment expenses...The audience often included other famous locals like Glen Tilbrook (who was later to produce a couple of tracks for the band), Albert Lee, and the above mentioned guitarers. The place became so packed (it just could have been the number of muso's) it was pointless having a break since we couldn’t get to the bar, and the beers had to be passed forward. The South East London Mercury when reviewing an evening likened it to “...sharing a train compartment with the cast of the Muppets” '.  (Extract from Bobby's website here).

Truly memorable days for some of us, with Erich (and his wife Anna) at the heart of it.

"Erich Hofer, The Duke of Deptford, will be sadly missed, a true gentleman and the best pub landlord in my life, RIP" Colin Bodiam


  1. Coming home from a party in Greenwich at 2am one Sunday morning I saw Erich standing in the doorway of the Duke. He called across the road "Hello Nobby", which he unfortunately always called me. "Fancy a drink?" I didn't, but it was too good an opportunity to miss so went over and joined him in the bar. On another occasion during one his lock-ins he went to the till, took out a tenner and gave it to us with the instruction to order another round of drinks. Good old Erich - always generous and always welcoming.

  2. I can remember being dragged in to the Duke by Erich in a similar fashion to Bob, strolling past while Erich was outside looking for a customer! He was incredibly generous with a long slate for various patrons.
    I can also remember him on one of his birthdays, being very 'happy' and having a quick lie down on the floor of the pub. We of course carried on as usual until the police arrived. 'Who's on charge here?' Er... he is.. pointing to the sleeping host.

  3. Younger Crossfields residents might know Erich's son, Karl, even if they didn't know Erich, because Karl lived in Holden House for a fair few years.

  4. I've had so may messages of support and sadness from people who remember my Dad, thank you so much for all those.

    I've unearthed loads of photos of The Duke and many of its regulars from back in the day, I can scan them and send them over if you want them for this site maybe...?

    Hope to see a load of old faces on Friday. x

  5. Thanks, Karl, that would be great!

  6. I'll second that, Karl. That would be much appreciated.

  7. Erich what a man, he was brilliant, even when he was telling you your music was too loud and to turn down :). Be there to raise a glass to a top geezer with his first class son. Peace to him. x

  8. I have many fond memories of the Duke, including the great birthday party my flat-mate from Holden House had in the upstairs room - I don't think Erich ever did charge us for that. Thanks for those memories mate :)

  9. I worked behind the bar for Erich for a few years, he was a good boss - more of a friend. He looked after me and we had some good laughs. RIP Erich, and my thoughts are with Karl and his family.